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Courses

Bestsellers

They're the best and they sell. Enough said.

You see them everywhere: at the drugstore, at the mall, at the airport. You might even have them inside your home: on your bedside table, in your purse, next to the john. They're advertised on television, and some people can't stop talking about them.

No, we're not talking about tabloid magazines or prophylactics—we're talking about bestselling books.

These riveting page-turners capture the attention of the masses, but sometimes—and don't tell anyone we told you this (oh, who are we kidding, tell everyone!)—you might learn something. These books tackle the same themes as those stuffy old "classics" you've read, but with an extra injection of fun. Who needs Lord of the Flies when you have The Hunger Games? Well, there's room for both. It's like having a main course with a delicious side. But sometimes, you won't be able to tell which one's the steak (or meatless vegetarian alternative) and which one is the potatoes.


Here's a sneak peek at a video from the course. BYOP (bring your own popcorn).

Course Breakdown

Unit 1. Top of What Charts?

This unit will introduce you to the world of bestsellers, familiarizing you with the most important bestsellers lists and authors, and describing the process of creating bestselling literature—from story idea to dust jacket.

Unit 2. Game of Stones—Harry Potter and A Game of Thrones

In this unit, you'll read (or reread) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and A Game of Thrones, getting to know the wonderful world of fandom through these bestselling franchises.

Unit 3. The Most Dangerous Games

It's no surprise that dystopia has a place in bestselling literature. In this unit, you'll dig deeper by reading both The Hunger Games and Ready Player One.

Unit 4. 'Cause This is Thriller

Thriller and horror are quite the combination. In this unit, you'll read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Shining, discussing the relationship between authors and their bestselling works as well as what's so intriguing about all this spooky stuff.

Unit 5. Help! We Need Somebody—To Make Sense of History

Bestselling historical fiction has taken off recently, and this unit will tackle the genre through The Help. Along the way, we'll learn that bestsellers become even better sellers with a little controversy thrown in.

Unit 6. The Perks in Our Stars

You'll finish off by reading some Young Adult hits: The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Fault in Our Stars. Turns out everyone loves teen drama.

Sample Lesson - Introduction

Lesson 3: Anatomy of a Bestseller

Two open books, a quill pen and pot, and a photograph all stand before a row of books.
This book heard we were discussing the "anatomy of a bestseller" so it opened itself up for our viewing pleasure.
(Source)

This is going to come as a shock. We hope you’re sitting down.

Bestsellers don’t miraculously jump from an author's brain like a bunch of gods from Zeus’ skull and climb to the top of the bestseller charts. While you're furiously flipping pages to discover the resolution to the last chapter's cliffhanger, you might assume that the words you're poring over just effortlessly hopped from brain to fingers to computer screen to paper to bookshelves to the top of charts. Bestselling status achieved, it's time for the author to go back and crank out another one.

Right? These authors are essentially just robots in human skin programmed to make books that dominate the lists we all adhere to, aren’t they?

This might be how Nora Roberts does it—seriously, that woman must be magical—but for most authors it's a much more laborious process.

Like pinball or playing the lottery, writing a bestselling novel doesn't just depend on skill, either. It requires a heaping helping of timing, publicity, and a dash or two of luck. Mm, delicious and amazing luck.

Have we mentioned there is no one single perfect formula for this process? We did? Carry on, then.

In this lesson, we'll get a peek at how bestsellers are made. Well, we'll get a peek at how a bestseller is made. Like snowflakes or the minions from Despicable Me, they might all seem the same on the surface—not that you'd judge a book by its cover—but the story behind each one is different.